Petrol vs. Wine: The Real Cost of Staying Close

Aerial of western Breede River Valley (our region), with 1995m high DuToit's Peak looming behind.

With the price of desert-juice from Saudi Arabia rising at alarming rates, the ability to buy that which is illegal there, namely fermented juice of the vine, is becoming more and more difficult. In fact, it’s frightening to note that bulk wine can cost up to five times less that of petrol.  Scary! Perhaps we should start synthesising bio-fuel from grapes?

That aside, the wine connoisseur is left wanting; often having to choose between the flagship red, or having enough money for Caltex. Drive and drink like a pauper or walk and drink like a sommelier.

Keeping a Capetonian from the Winelands is like keeping a penguin from the water. Most need their weekend pilgrimage to the estates to see what’s on offer; to taste something delicious and new. After all, we pay the “lifestyle tax” of earning less in the Cape compared to our Gauteng compatriots, so we need to take advantage of that which we pay this “tax” for.

The logical conclusion for the petrol-wary-wine-seeking Capetonian: stay close, we’ll save. This logic is understandable; Constantia, Durbanville, Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek all seem too alluring. People seldom blink an eye departing for a daytrip to the gorgeous vineyards of the Huguenots in ourFrench Corner. However, what few fathom is, that when you turn off the N1 onto the R45 (in Paarl) to explore the wineries of Franschhoek, the time taken to reach them is almost identical to pushing on through the tunnel to Rawsonville.

Yes, Breedekloof Wine Route and Rawsonville is not much more effort, yet the psychological barrier of the statuesque mountains keeps people in a mindset of: “It’s too far for a daytrip.” It simply isn’t!

The cost of petrol and toll; this is understandable fuzzy-logic again. However, Breedekloof runs on quality and value, whereas regions on the other side run on acclaim. What little extra is spent at Caltex or Engen is saved on value-for-money. Embarking on a wine tour in the hinterland will leave your wallet a little heavier upon leaving, yet not compromising on quality.

DuToitskloof Wines is a perfect example, once again announced Best Value for Money Cellar. It has been forced to build its name on giving the consumer more than they expect. It cannot run on the fame of Rawsonville; who’s heard of Rawsonville outside the Western Cape? Few, except the most geographically minded. So, local Breedekloof Wine Route producers have to pursue quality over fame to get their share of the competitive wine market.

Nevertheless, the genuine-feel of Rawsonville and the Breedekloof region of being off the beaten track, means visitors feel like guests, not like Disney-ticket holders waiting for the Winery’s-Wild-Ride.

Do yourself a favour and spend a little more at the pump, but get so much more at the cellar. The hinterland has much to see and do and even more to taste. The mountains erupt from the valley floor in a more spectacular fashion, the drive is almost unworldly in its beauty, the people welcoming and the wine, comparable to those from “that side of the berg,” but at half the price.

A little initial investment will yield great returns. Invest in a trip through the Huguenot Tunnel, but don’t tell the Huguenots in our neighbouring valley I told you to. 

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